Education System Overview
Education in Chile is considered to be inequitable amongst the population.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for pre-primary, primary, and secondary schooling in Chile. The pre-primary level is two years of non-compulsory education for children four to five years of age.Primary and secondary education are compulsory. Primary education is from ages 6 to 13, and secondary education is from ages 14 to 17. In 2000, 99 percent of school-age children were studying at primary schools, and 90 at secondary schools.
In terms of financing, there are the following kinds of schools:
Municipal: State-subsidized schools run by municipalities, which may also contribute monetarily to the schools. The majority of the population studies at these schools (64% at the primary level).
Particular Subvencionado: Private with a government subsidy. At the primary level, 29% of the population attends this kind of school.
Particular: Private. At the primary level, 7% of the population attends this kind of school.
Corporate Schools: Schools run by corporations and which receive the same state subsidy that the municipal schools receive.
After graduation from high school, students may choose to go to college, to work, or to study at a professional institute or technical center. In Chile, a university education is much less common and much more prestigious than in the U.S.
Prueba Selección Universitaria (PSU) is the national exam that students must take in their last year of high school, if they want to enter college.
Chilean public universities are more competitive than private ones, although the private colleges may have additional entrance examinations. Some students opt to enter a pre-university program to prepare for the exam.
At the university level, students are divided by faculty and then by year. University students study for four to seven years; those studying for four or five years usually get the equivalent of a bachelor's degree. Degrees in engineering, medicine and law are given after six or seven years of college.
Chilean Government-Sponsored Programs
There are a number of Chilean Government-sponsored programs which support English-language learning, scholarships, and testing for Chilean citizens. In no particular order of importance or funding, following are at least five notable programs:
CORFO: The overall mission of this agency is to encourage and support entrepreneurship and innovation. Of one of the many legs this organization supports includes offering adult professionals in selected and approved industries two- or four-months of intensive English courses.
SIMCE: This yearly administered testing to children throughout the country, measures their skills in various topics. Recently, English-language acquisition was added to the skill list of the nation-wide SIMCE testing.
ENGLISH OPENS DOORS (Inglés Abre Puertas): This multi-faceted, Chilean Ministry of Education-sponsored program, has morphed since its inception in year 2002, but has included inviting English-speaking volunteers into the country to assist English acquisition into the public school system (kinder through 12th grade).
SENCE: The Chilean government provides income tax credits to employers that pay for employees that participate in language courses from companies that meet the SENSE requirements as set forth by the Chilean governmental standards and regulations.
BECAS CHILE: Educational scholarships provided to advanced Chilean university-level students that intend to study abroad in those countries where English will be the primary language of instruction for any variety of career studies.